The Speaker of Parliament has backed calls by Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) to have the Constitution amended to include the Maragoli community among Ugandan tribes and grant them citizenship.
The commission chairperson, Mr Medi Kaggwa, who presented the rights’ 20th report to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday, said UHRC had investigated the status of the Maragoli in Bunyoro, saying they had been denied rights to Ugandan citizenship.
“The Maragoli were denied their right to nationality and identity with many cases of discrimination and social exclusion, inadequate access to social services and lack of political participation, as well as access to justice,” the report says.
Mr Kaggwa recommends that government considers the plight of the Maragoli and issue them with national identification documents and access to other rights as full citizens of Uganda.
Ms Kadaga said the highlights of the report will be picked up by Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, but she tasked the commission to also investigate the fate of the Batwa and other indigenous tribes of Uganda.
The report once more pins the police and other State security organs for torture of suspects in their custody.
The report says suspects are tortured under the cover of pre- trial detention.
“We note that the right to a fair and speedy hearing is absolute and non-derogable and that the delay in the production of suspects in court directly affects their right to personal liberty and fair and speedy trial,” Mr Kaggwa said.
He said the long detentions “not only delay justice for the accused persons and victims of crimes, but also exposes suspects to torture and ill-treatment.”
Mr Kaggwa noted that most of the victims of torture are those linked to capital offences.
The acts of torture, Mr Kaggwa noted, had resulted in severe injuries and death, as well as trauma and fear in some communities.
But the police have often argued that delays to produce suspects in court have been forced on them by delayed investigations due to inadequate human and financial resources. They also cite external factors, including delay in sanctioning of files by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions as well as the absence of judicial officers.
Other cases of torture and rights violation were linked to land conflicts, with most of the cases reported in Amuru, Bulisa, Kayunga, Mubende and Mpigi, among other strategic investment areas.
The commission also highlights the increasing cases of violent crime that soared in 2017 and included the gruesome killings of women in Greater Masaka, Wakiso and areas neighbouring Kampala.
The report says most of the crimes occurred in urban centres with 725 of the cases being of rape, reported to the police between January and June 2017 alone, while 191 cases were related to domestic violence.
Mr Kaggwa said the government has been reluctant in implementing most of the commission’s recommendations, with 57 per cent rate of non-compliance and only 43 per cent of partial compliance on completed cases.